Back to South East Asia (Part 2) On to Malaysia!

Part two of Misha’s Blog from our recent trip to South East Asia

The first three days of our South East Asia tour was spent in Singapore, and in spite of our busy schedule of events and meetings, we still ensured that some of our desperate cravings for certain food and flavours had been sated. For me, Beef Hor Fun was at the very top of the list and the Spices Café at the Concorde Hotel on Orchard Road where we stayed, served me a delicious bowl at 9.30pm one evening on our return from a hectic day of tastings and masterclasses. But Singapore was just the warm up – the real food extravaganza was about to begin!

Lunch at The Cliff with Alfred and team from SH Maju
The next stop on our tour was Langkawi off the west coast of the Malaysian mainland. On arrival it’s traditional to go to The Cliff Restaurant on Cenang Beach and catch up with Alfred, owner of our distributor, SH Maju, and feast on a selection of ‘local favourites’! This time we were joined by a few wine industry folks as well which meant our lunch selection was both diverse and delicious and of course included the famous beef rendang plus an array of spicy seafood dishes. In Asia, it’s always about the food but it’s great to see that passion now extending to wine. At our lunch at The Cliff, there was a lot of discussion on how well our Gewurztraminer paired with the dishes! And yes, this group were all ‘wine interested’ and involved in various aspects of the beverage industry’ but I did notice that during our time in both Singapore and Malaysia, the interest and knowledge in wines had risen a notch.

The beautiful restaurant Ikan-ikan at Four Seasons
It was fun being in Langkawi and comforting to see hotels starting to welcome tourists again. The impact to Langkawi during the pandemic was severe since tourism receipts account for almost 90% of the island’s economy. With no direct flights to Langkawi from anywhere other than Singapore, visitors must pass through another Malaysian airport to get there so the access and ease of getting into Langkawi is not easy. But once you’re there, the main island offers a mix of picturesque paddy fields, rainforests, and miles of sandy beaches. It’s also home to some of the most luxurious hotels you’ll every experience.

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, is one such luxury hotel which is situated within the Langakwi UNESCO Global Geopark and flanked by a mile-long beach and limestone cliffs! It was where we held our first Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner which started with canapés on the lawn followed by a number of special dishes expertly paired to our wines. The restaurant, Ikan-Ikan celebrates traditional Malaysian flavours and the incredible wine matching was thanks to their very talented chef as well as Derrick Yee, Director of Beverage Operations and F&B Director Mohzani Mokhtar who both joined us at the dinner.

‌Pre Dinner drinks with Jasmine – GM of Mercure Langkawi, Misha and Ellen Franke, GM of Ritz Carlton Langkawi
Our next luxury hotel was the Ritz Carlton Langkawi where we regularly do wine training for their F&B teams. We had a very enthusiastic team who enjoyed an afternoon learning more about New Zealand wine regions, key varieties, and what makes Central Otago wines special – especially the Misha’s Vineyard wines which are served at the hotel. We returned to the hotel in the evening to host another Misha’s Vineyard wine dinner in the newly refurbished Hai Yan Chinese restaurant. It was another case of fabulous wine matches with some innovative Chinese dishes.

During our time on the island, we also held wine training sessions at the very traditional Malay-style Berjaya Langkawi Resort and The Danna Langkawi with its distinctive Colonial-inspired architecture.

Staff training at Berajaya
We have worked with The Danna for many years and were happy to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday presenting our wines with the F&B team. Before leaving Langkawi, we had a great visit to the new Liquid Village wine shop, which is proudly owned by Alfred Loh – who also owns SH Maju who distribute our wines. After a casual final dinner of more ‘local favourites’, we took an early morning flight to the island of Penang.

Lai Yin with Chew from Finlux
It was great to reconnect with Chew, who owns Finlux, who has been our mainland Malaysia distributor for more than twelve years. Chew has appointed a company to be a sub-distributor of our wines in Penang – Gourmet and Wine Co. Alan who owns the company was keen to kick things off with a very successful masterclass at his premises which was a great way to showcase our range of wines. The next day we drove down to Kuala Lumpur with Chew and Kent from Finlux– a five hour drive, just making it in time to start our first event! We hosted an in-depth tasting of many older vintages of both our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir at the wine salon at Finlux. It certainly surprised many people that the wines could age so beautifully – especially our Sauvignon Blanc! Our other key event in Kuala Lumpur was a wine dinner at Nimbus restaurant in Petaling Jaya with the young and upcoming Chef Fred with some very innovative food.

We also managed to visit many customers and do some one-to-one tastings showcasing our new vintages.

The “Aged Wines” masterclass at Finlux
One of the restaurants we visited was DC Restaurant which is owned by celebrated Chef Darren Chin, who’s been awarded a Michelin star. We met with Hafiz, the GM who also recently won the Sommelier Award by The Michelin Guide in 2023. The restaurant had some fantastic dining spaces within it and is definitely on our ‘must visit’ list for next time we’re in KL. We also spent one wet drizzly evening visiting quite a few uber cool bars and funky restaurants in KL’s backstreets and it definitely made me think that this is a city we need to spend more leisure time in so that we can explore the amazing selection of bars and restaurants!

Malaysia – we’ll definitely be back soon!